THE Princess Royal's standard flew proudly from the watch tower of the NCI Portland Bill station as she arrived to be greeted by over 100 invited guests.

Princess Anne unveiled a plaque to open the station’s new training centre and Portland station manager Geoff Peters said she had asked to perform this ceremony and present the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to the four Dorset NCI stations.

The royal was welcomed by the Lord Lieutenant of Dorset Mrs Anthony Pitt-Rivers who presented a line-up of guests including the vice-chairman of Dorset County Council, David Crowhurst, borough mayor councillor Margaret Leicester, Portland deputy mayor councillor Les Ames, NCI chairman Alan Richards, Portland station manager Geoff Peters, Commander Rupert Best, Philip George, court leet agent and Bailiff and Andy Sargent, coxwain of Weymouth Lifeboat.

Princess Anne praised the work of NCI volunteers on which the organisation depends and she passed on ‘a very big thank you’ on behalf of all who use the sea and cliffs before adding that she hoped we were all enjoying the atmosphere of the sailing Olympics .

Mrs Pitt-Rivers gave a brief account of the work of the NCI before inviting the Princess Royal to present the Queen’s Award to the NCI managers of St Alban’s Head, Peveril Point, Lyme Bay and Portland Bill stations.

Before their departure, the princess made time to have a word with everyone present.

Mr Best, who nominated the south coast NCI for the award said: “These volunteers are splendid people who do a splendid job which is all the more necessary with the increase in leisure sailing around our coast and the departure of the coastguard helicopter and, as Master of Trinity House, it is very appropriate that HRH should have presented the Queen’s Award.”

For Lyme Bay manager Clive Edwards the visit to Portland Bill was nostalgic as he was a member of the coastguard stationed at the lookout which is now NCI Portland Bill for 18 years. He said: “It is a great honour to receive this award, especially as our very busy station has only been open for two years.”

Local man Portland court leet bailiff Philip George said: “Today has been a great privilege for the NCI and for the people of Portland that the Princess Royal should honour us with her presence.”

Portland Bill Station fundraiser Kim Scard said: “Today has proved fantastic recognition for the job carried out by NCI volunteers and through fundraising it is easy to see that it is a charity that our local community has taken to heart.”